Back to a Backyard Garden…
Gardening was once a normal part of life for most people, and in almost all parts of the world, we still have the ability to grow some of our own food, at least part of the year. Yet, statistically, many of us don’t (especially in the US).
Certainly, as the population has moved away from agriculture and into more urban settings, gardening is not as necessary and there isn’t as much land to garden on, but it is certainly still possible.
In war times, families were encouraged to grow “victory gardens” to help prevent food shortage and at their peak, there were over 20,000,000 of these gardens in the US.
With rising food & gas prices, droughts and issues with the food supply, perhaps it is time to bring back the backyard garden.
Gardening in a small backyard
I know many people who are fortunate enough to have a huge backyard with plenty of room to garden, but many of us live in the city and have limited space that gets enough sun.
Even in a small backyard or on a porch/patio, some simple vegetables, herbs and greens can be grown:
- Beets, radishes, lettuces and some greens can be grown in light shade/moderate sun and work well on balconies and patios
- Vines like beans, peas, and cucumbers can be grown in hanging baskets or in barrels on a deck or patio
- Peppers, tomatoes and beans need more sun (6-8 hours per day) for optimal growth
Just make sure that any container plants get enough sun and water, and that the container has proper drainage. If pests are an issue, try these natural pest control options.
Here are seven simple ways that I’ve personally tried for backyard gardening…
DIY Planter Box
I shared the instructions for my simple cedar planter box before, and this is one of the simplest ways to grow a small backyard garden.
This planter is only three feet long, so it will fit on almost any patio or porch. We are currently growing Kale, herbs and a few microgreens.
If you aren’t the DIY type and don’t want to build a container for gardening, there are many pre-existing natural containers that will work:
- Bushel baskets
- Old Barrels (cut in half)
- Metal drums or planters
- Wooden boxes
- Ceramic pots
Just make sure that any container has adequate drainage and water container plants often.
Square Foot Garden
This is one of the first types of backyard gardening I tried when we moved into our first home. The basic concept is using a 4×4 raised bed (or several of them) in a very calculated way to maximize the amount of food that can be grown. The 4×4 foot bed is divided into 16 one-foot squares and each square is used for one type of plant (based on size).
For instance, you might plant one tomato plant in one square, four basil plants in another and nine spinach plants in another.
This site has some additional information about how to plan a square foot garden, but to get started, you just need:
- A 4×4 raised bed kit (or materials to make your own)
- Optional: a square foot gardening grid
- Soil + sunlight
An extension of the square foot garden is a larger raised bed. The square foot method can actually be used in a larger bed as well to optimize production.
By using companion planting and succession planting, we are able to grow food from April-October in our climate. This post details more about growing methods and shows plans for the really large garden we grew for the past few years.
Do you have a garden? If so, what are you growing this year?